The two main candidates in the 2016 elections We can’t allow that to happen! I don’t vote. Read that well, I didn’t write “I don’t know who to vote for” — that would make me an “undecided voter”; neither did I say “I won’t vote”. I don’t vote because I don’t want to. It is a personal decision, but the fact that I don’t vote does not mean I don’t know who I want as president. I know who I want as president, and I know who should be the president from all indications, ie, campaign messages, economic situation, infrastructural developments (or the overhyped ones) etc. But, I still don’t vote, because somehow, someway, I expect my preferred candidate to win without my votes. I am a neutral citizen to an extent, but what I truly am is this; I belong to a growing number of 18-to-30-year-olds who will identify themselves as “likely voters” this December. Our collective willingness to “stand in line for hours” outside polling stations in order to vote for the candidate we deem fit is far less than the next member of this “group” would suspect. Millennials have the most stake in how our country precedes. So to what degree will we engage in and be activated by politics now? It’s an open question. Because, we all think everyone else is going to vote for THAT candidate that we believe must win, we think our no-votes won’t matter. After all, how could the Ghanaian electorate’s view of THAT right candidate be so different from ours? Up until a week ago, I was so convinced that at least 70% of the electoral populace would revolt against all that John Mahama stood for and vote for another person during the 2016 general elections. But I spent a day at the inauguration of the newly constructed Kwame Nkrumah Interchange and this belief was shaken to the core. Beyond the usual chaotic din of the JM Toaso, JM Tusu, and “onaapo” chants, there was something else at that rally — something I thought the NDC had lost a lot of — level-headed individuals who genuinely believed that the incumbent John Dramani Mahama was the better choice for Ghanaian come Dec. 7th. And a good number of my friends are part of these people. Having grown up on almost the same set of principles, sharing the same values and ethics over the years, I couldn’t understand what drove them to think that John Mahama was the president to maintain for Ghana’s continued development. There are people who are in the JM Toaso camp for the money they get — I am not writing about those people; there are people who have just given up on any hope that a different president would change Ghana — I am not talking about those people too. I am talking about people who have, over the years, shown a higher level of analytical-thinking yet chose to join the “Greenbook” Camp. I know the above reads condescending on my part when it comes to Mahama-supporters, and even though I want to say that’s not how it is meant to be, I realize that is exactly how it is meant to read. I met people at the launch of the Circle Interchange, whose support for Mahama is not based on gifts, promises or whatsoever, but a clear and definite conviction that John Dramani Mahama is indeed the best person to lead Ghana for another 4 years. I wanted to exclaim and condemn them, but after speaking with some, I realized that there is this thing that both people who think Mahama should be maintained and those who don’t have in common: A sense of profound confusion about how the other side cannot understand their perspective. Political divisions between us are greater than they ever have been, and are still getting worse by the day. And for the first time in my life, I was forced to go back on something I was so adamantly convinced about — that Nana Addo would easily win this election. I have gone back on a lot of things in my twenty-something years of being alive, a whole lot, but most of those were not things that I had total conviction in. Not my earlier conviction that Ghanaians would SURELY vote out John Dramani Mahama come December 7. Mahama’s fan base scares me. It drives a dreadful shiver down my spine; it make me recoil into a different understanding of what Brecht means by “political illiterate”. “The worst illiterate is the political illiterate… He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions…The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.” ― Bertolt Brecht Egyptian writer, Alaa al-Aswany (Arabic: علاء الأسواني), a founding member of the political movement Kefaya, once wrote about how “Illiteracy does not impede the practice of democracy” in his book, شيكاجو. He uses the example of India citing “the success of democracy in India despite the high illiteracy rate” as one sign that people do not need a university degree to realize that the ruler is oppressive and corrupt. I agree with him to a point, and then I don’t. Maybe illiteracy does impede democracy in a way. How? Democracy postulates enlightenment and is, by and large, a blessing, and illiteracy, which implies ignorance, is a menace. Democracy assumes that there is a high degree of political consciousness, a fair degree of education and intelligence, a continuous interest in public affairs and a full, abiding realization of the duties responsibilities of true citizenship. No less important, there is tolerance dissent and a willingness to accept the verdict of the majority. For all these qualities literacy is indispensable; where there is illiteracy the conditions for the success of a democratic set-up do not exist. Democracy is governed by discussions, questions and responses. Where there is no discussion, no free exchange of views and expression, there is no real democracy. For, in today’s day and age, he who controls the masses controls the nation. And the control of the masses belongs to he who can control the information. Information is, quite simply, the greatest tool of mass manipulation and thought control civilization has ever seen, an incarnation of the myriad of myths, fables, fictions, story telling, theologies and all other forms of ‘bread and circus’ histories that have been used to shape our knowledge and thought processes. I have had several discussions with an NDC foot soldier who works with me. To be fair, he is unlike those regular foot soldiers you hear on radio trading insults and throwing about unfounded accusation. But he is a footsoldier nonetheless, he is ready to argue out the pros of John Dramani Mahama and highlight the cons of Nana Addo Dankwa at the least invitation. So yes, he is a foot soldier and he has always seemed so assured of a win for the NDC. On Thursday last week, I mustered the courage to ask why he could not comprehend the message of change that the NPP campaign was preaching, and he was honest about it. He agreed that NPP was doing it’s best to “paint Mahama black” in places such as Accra, T’di and Kumasi, but he continued that it didn’t bother him much as the NPP messages was not reaching the hinterlands. He bluntly agreed that the NPP’s message was clear and directed at the intellectual elites, people who didn’t have to look too close before they could tell that Mahama was not towing the path a good president should. But he also reminded me that a good percentage of Ghana’s 15.8million voters do not belong to these set of “intellectual elites” that the NPP message will get to. And according to him, these people did not give half a shit about whether the NDC government was blowing off millions of state-money on schemes like SADA, Mahama receiving bribery in the form of a Ford Expeditions et al. And it made sense. I had traveled to some remote areas in Ghana and it seemed the anti-John Mahama rhetoric was non-existent or in some cases ineffective. But this didn’t bother me. The voting patterns in Ghana have made me learnt that, the party that the wins G. Accra and Central Regions is the party that wins Ghana. Nana Addo had, earlier this year, charged the NPP leadership and supporters to focus on winning Accra as the way to win the elections, and even though famed pollster, Ben Ephson disagrees, I think Nana’s assertion is a clear reflection of the state of Ghana voters. And in Ghana, it is the lower echelons that matter. Ghana has a literacy rate of 71.5%. This is a totally “awesome” statistic that suggests that a significantly large number of adult populace are literates, or as per the definition, can read and write. So it is up to you and I. We must shift the balance, we must not sit on the fence, it is that same apathy towards the US election that led to the announcing of Donald Trump as the president-elect. I know, not voting was a hard practice to break. But you need to vote your conscience. I don’t vote, but I WILL vote this year. Whatever you do, whoever your choice is, just vote.